Polling Place Accessibility Guidelines – January 2014
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Where there is more than one point of entry or exit to a building where the voting area is located, these guidelines apply to at least one path of travel from each of the following arrival points: accessible parking, accessible drop-off zones, public transportation, and public streets and sidewalks. When accessible drop-off zones or public transportation points are beyond the polling place property line, it is recommended that the path of travel to the voting area be measured to include a path of travel beyond the property line in an effort to include drop-off zones or public transportation loading and unloading zones. At least one accessible path of travel from the property line to the voting area shall be provided on Election Day. (CCR, Section 11B-206.2.1.) See Figure 4 below.
Sidewalks or other walkways shall be at least 48 inches wide. An exception to the 48 inches clear width is allowed when, due to right-of-way restrictions, natural barriers or other existing conditions, the enforcing agency determines that compliance with the 48-inch clear sidewalk width would create an unreasonable hardship. Only in these cases may the clear width narrow to 36 inches wide. (CCR, Section 11B-403.5.1.3.)
When sidewalks slope to the side, the maximum cross-slope (the slope that is perpendicular to the direction of travel) allowable is 2 percent. (CCR, Section 11B-403.3.) A 2 percent slope, (the technical definition of "level") is ¼-inch of height for each 12 inches of distance. A limit to the sideways slope of the sidewalk is important to voters with balance disabilities or voters using walkers or canes.
Exterior accessible paths of travel to the polling place shall be free of steps. Abrupt changes in level from ¼-inch to ½-inch shall be beveled. (CCR, Sections 11B-403.4, 11B-303.3.) Any changes in height on the path of travel of ½-inch or more shall have a sloping surface that complies with the requirements in Section 6 Ramps, Curb Ramps, and Slopes.
Path of travel surfaces shall be stable, firm, and slip-resistant. (CCR, Section 11B-302.1.) For example, sand, gravel, broken cement/asphalt, or wet slippery surfaces may not be accessible.
When there are grates or other gaps in the walking sidewalk surface, they shall not be more than ½-inch wide in the direction of travel. (CCR, Section 11B-302.3.) Pedestrian routes intended for voters shall have a vertical clear space at least 80 inches high from the ground or floor. Tree limbs, signs, or other objects placed in the path of travel shall be at least 80 inches above the surface of the ground or floor. When the vertical clear space next to the accessible path of travel is reduced to less than 80 inches, a barrier to warn blind or visually impaired persons shall be provided. (CCR, Section 11B-307.4.)
Pedestrian paths shall be free of objects that project horizontally into the path of travel. When objects such as tree limbs or signs are located at a height between 27 inches and 80 inches above the surface of the ground or floor, they shall not extend into the accessible path of travel more than 4 inches. (CCR 11B-307.2.) However, each handrail is permitted to protrude a maximum of 4 ½ inches. (CCR, Section 11B-307.2. Exception.) Pole mounted objects between 27 inches and 80 inches above the walking surface can extend into the path of travel up to 12 inches. (CCR, Section 11B-307.3.) See Figure 5.
Objects that extend horizontally into the accessible path of travel shall not reduce the path of travel to less than required by this Section. (CCR, Section 11B-307.5.)
Occasionally there is more than one path of travel to the polling place but only one is accessible. Signs that meet the requirements of Section 5 of these Guidelines shall be used to direct elderly voters and voters with disabilities to the accessible path of travel. (CCR, Section 11B-216.6.) See Figure 6.
When necessary, temporary modifying equipment or measures may be used to provide compliance along the exterior path of travel.